Home Education and Careers Commentary: Catholic Schools — Definitely different

Commentary: Catholic Schools — Definitely different

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Faith formation, academic excellence and service to others are hallmarks of schools in the diocese

 

“Can you tell me why I should choose a Catholic school education for my child?”

This question comes to me in various ways – parents considering education for their first child, parents considering the financial commitment, parents considering whether high school and college acceptances are influenced, parents wondering what difference a Catholic school education makes.

The reply to this inquiry is simple. A Catholic school education is “definitely different!” It is unlike any other form of schooling – public, charter, private.

What’s the difference? A Catholic school education is one that is rooted in faith, knowledge, and service.

Primarily, a Catholic school education is about faith, not just knowledge of the faith, but information, formation, and transformation. While information about the faith is provided in every Catholic school daily in the religion or theology period, faith development in a Catholic school is much more.

Bishop Malooly talks to children in the library at Christ the Teacher School during his visit to the Glasgow school on Jan. 15. The students came through in groups, with each one sharing with the bishop what they were learning. Bishop Malooly asked the students to describe Christ the Teacher with one word and requested that they go home and thank their parents for sacrificing in order to send them to a Catholic school.T he Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com
Bishop Malooly talks to children in the library at Christ the Teacher School during his visit to the Glasgow school on Jan. 15. The students came through in groups, with each one sharing with the bishop what they were learning. Bishop Malooly asked the students to describe Christ the Teacher with one word and requested that they go home and thank their parents for sacrificing in order to send them to a Catholic school.T he Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com

Formation occurs at every moment of the school day – from the invitations to prayer at the beginning, middle, and end of the school day to integrated references to Catholic teaching throughout instruction. The tapestry of faith development is woven throughout each subject every day. It is embedded in the culture of the school, not just an overlay to an academic program.

The result is transformation, that is, the culture change that is evident in students and in the entire school community. This transformation, guided by the Holy Spirit, forms the members of the school community into the people of God who truly effect change in the neighborhood and the world. No other school, program, or system can inform, form, and transform young people in the same way as a Catholic school education.

Of equal importance in a Catholic school education is academic excellence. Despite serving a wide range of student abilities, Catholic schools demonstrate above average performance in measures of achievement.

The Rodel Foundation of Delaware published documentation for 2012-2013 about SAT scores in Delaware. Based upon the data reported, 1550 is cited by the College Board as a score for success in college and career readiness.

The Delaware average score is 1276. The aggregate score for Catholic secondary school students in the five parish and diocesan schools in the Diocese of Wilmington is 1568. Individual scores for students or phases/levels of students within schools that serve a comprehensive population are even higher.

Of particular interest, the aggregate score of Catholic schools exceeded the scores reported by every Delaware public high school and charter school, with the exception of one.

Lastly, a Catholic school education leads to service – not only because it is beneficial to the community, but also, and more importantly, because it is Gospel living. In a multitude of ways Catholic schools live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and the principles of Catholic social teaching.

Students and adults do what they do in imitation of Jesus Christ, the master teacher, who directs their actions. Each week at Sunday and daily Masses regularly attended by students, the school community hears and acts on the final command, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”

While service may be connected to other educational entities, in Catholic schools there is a clear imperative that answers why we do what we do.

So back to our original question. “Can you tell me why I should choose a Catholic school education for my child?”

“Sure. A Catholic school education is a priceless gift to a child. Although a financial sacrifice for parents, it is the way to guarantee a fully integrated program of faith, knowledge, and service. It opens doors for high school and college acceptances and scholarship opportunities. And it affects the development of a child at his/her core – spiritually, intellectually, morally, and emotionally – as it deepens the child’s relationship with God and others.”

This week we celebrate Catholic school education. Join us as we recognize the blessing of the 30 Catholic schools in the Diocese of Wilmington.

Louis P. De Angelo is Superintendent of Schools and Secretary of Catholic Education for the Diocese of Wilmington.